A few days ago, in the middle of a long morning of emails, I get a call from my lawyer. She tells me I have an appointment with immigration for an interview next month. This is the final interview and the person in front of me that day will decide wether to renew my greencard for the next 10 years or not. I thank her and hang up the phone.
I blank for a moment and before I even hear it coming every inch of my body gets devoured by anxiety. I kind of want to cry but I can’t, I haven’t cried in years. I wanna go back to my emails but Images of worst case scenarios start scrolling aggressively in my mind. “OMG, what if they say no? I’m fucked forever, my life, my dreams, my hopes are all gone! What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna go? What kind of life am I gonna live? How am I going to continue my work? How am I ever going to recover from the heartbreak of losing my home, my freedom? Am I gonna survive this?” I catch myself spinning tales and I snap out of it.
I get up, go to the bathroom, turn the cold water on. I look in the mirror, I know the person I see, nothing has changed yet. I fill my hands with iced cold water and splash it on my face. I stare, head down, at the water flowing for a few seconds. I turn the water off, take a long deep breath, look in the mirror one last time. A whispering voice in my head(or maybe in my soul) tells me ” Everything will be ok, stop worrying, keep working”. I agree with her. I go back to my desk and start responding to the rest of my emails.
For the following two days I feel like my soul has been ripped out of my body. I can’t focus on work, I can’t think clearly, I can’t sleep(but that’s no news!). I feel empty, agitated, in limbo. I double my meditation time but I still feel restless.
Today it’s finally warm out. I sit on my deck—a green hidden gem on the top floor of an East Village building—and I try to get some work done but the tales keep spinning. “What will they decide? How can they put my fate in the hands of one single person. What if the officer doesn’t like me, what if i remind him/her of an ex girlfriend/boyfriend or someone who wronged him/her and this person ruins my life because of it?” and then it spirals into “How is it fair to stop people from having the freedom to pursue their dreams? Isn’t migration what made the human race evolve? why can we just all love each other so boarders wouldn’t be needed anymore? Doesn’t this country exist because of migration? I’ve been living in this country for almost 8 years, yes I wasn’t born here, but I love it as much as its citizens do, sometime even more. This is my country too, this is my home”. And then I zoom out from these speculative drama and start thinking about this last word…
Home. Where is Home? WHAT is home after-all? I’ve been roaming from city to city, from country to country for all of my adult life (which is about a decade long). I’ve lived in Italy, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London and NYC and traveled to over 20 countries in the last 8 years always relentlessly wondering what it meant to be home. I never fully felt at home until I found this place…
Next month (ironically the day of my immigration interview) will mark 2 years since I became a resident of NYC. It seems yesterday I was sitting in a cab looking at the unmistakable Manhattan skyline coming from the airport. I had nothing more than a suitcase in the trunk and a big dream in my heart. My life was very different then. I was so fragile, so blind, so fucking lost. Everything has changed since. I’ve changed. I kind of found myself…
Home. NYC. I love it even when I hate it! I could never imagine living anywhere else. I didn’t realized how much I love it until that phone call. This city gave me more than a home. It gave me new life. It demolished me and rebuilted me stronger, wilder, smarter, hungrier. My heart grew bigger here. So much bigger! Here of all places—among the craziness, the noise and the exhausting high energy—I found peace. I learnt that I have everything I need to live my dreams inside of me and no matter where I am, I am home after-all.
Next month I will be holding a glass in my hand(filled of champaign in scenario A or filled of hard liquor in scenario B!), I have no idea if it will be to celebrate my 2nd year of living in NYC, or to drown my sorrow of having to say goodbye to life as i know it.
I think about it a second too long and the tales are about to keep spinning again, but the same voice, this time strong and sturdy says: “Everything will be ok, stop worrying, keep working. You’re home”.
The voice is right. I look around my beautiful deck and glance at the typical East Village building, with their little fire escapes across the street. I love my apartment, I love my neighborhood, I love my City. I stare at my computer, one of my pictures is up, it’s a portrait of a beautiful Vietnamese girl, the day I shot her she told me she dreams of coming to America one day and see Central Park, “like in the movies” she said. I smile. A bittersweet smile filled of fear and happiness. I don’t know what will happen to me but I truly hope I’ll live to see a world where empathy and compassion will overcome and perhaps dissolve boarders, where people will love each other and behave accordingly so there would be no need to restrict our freedom of going where makes us happy, our freedom to find our home.
And after many years, without notice or reason, suddenly…I cry. I let go, I surrender to trusting that things will work out the way they are supposed to. I’m home now.